Leaders, whether in politics, academia, sports, entertainment or the church, face constant temptation through three avenues: power, money and sex.
I sat on a jury a few years ago and heard a case about a priest who had abused numerous underage girls. The higher ups moved him to another parish in order to protect the reputation of the church (or so they claimed).
It would have saved the church’s reputation if those in authority had called the police, had the predatory priest arrested and sent to jail to await trial. It would have saved the church’s reputation if they had spoken openly and excommunicated the criminal.
This kind of sinful behavior isn’t limited to the Catholic Church. It’s happening in evangelical churches as well. It happens in politics, academia, sports and entertainment. It happens in our communities and neighborhoods.
Hiding sin never works. God always brings it to light. For those of us who are Christians, the Holy Spirit makes it known to us so that we can confess, repent and realign ourselves with what is true and right. Turning around and walking the narrow path doesn’t mean there won’t be consequences. Sin always causes damage and heartbreak.
Remember King David? He took his friend’s wife, got her pregnant, then murdered him to cover-up a pregnancy. God let him think he’d gotten away with everything for a while; then sent a prophet to confront him. David confessed, grieved over his sin, and lost an infant son because of it. Even though David whole-heartedly repented, he still had to live with the consequences: a family in moral collapse; rape, murder, rebellion, palace intrigue, relatives who became enemies.
Sin devastates. Nothing stays secret! You know that add you hear on TV about “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas?” Don’t count on it.
While we point fingers at those powerful individuals now exposed in the media, we need to remember they reflect our culture. Who made them so rich and powerful, they mistakenly believed they could do anything they wanted to anyone they chose? We watched their movies, cheered at their sporting events, called them anointed by God in the pulpit, voted them into office.
How do we deal with powerful unrepentant men and women who use their positions to abuse others? We hold them accountable. If we don’t, we share the responsibility for what they’ve done. While we hold them accountable, we must examine our own lives carefully. What sins are we hiding? We can ask God to reveal so that we can change course. We can ask Him for the courage and willingness to live our lives to please Him. How do we please Him? Do justice. Love kindness. Walk humbly with God. Treat others the way we want to be treated.
In the end, we will all stand before the throne of God who sees into the hearts of every human being who has ever lived on the planet. Nothing will be hidden then.